Honus Wagner was actually a darn good shortstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates back in the day. He was one of the first five players inducted into the Hall of Fame, along with Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Babe Ruth, Christy Matthewson. Nuff said about the skills of “The Flying Dutchman.” But for the majority of folks his lasting legacy is his T206 1909 baseball card, otherwise referred to as “The Holy Grail” and “Mona Lisa” of baseball cards, so to speak. Well, according to Yahoo Sports (via the AP), his baseball card is up to some major shenanigans again.
The famed baseball card, once owned by hockey great Wayne Gretzky, has sold for a record $2.35 million dollars.
The buyer has only been identified as a Southern California collector. SCP Auctions Inc., a company that holds sports memorabilia auctions, said it bought a small share of the card. It is scheduled to be shown at a news conference at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday. The seller, Brian Seigel, in 2000 paid a then-record $1,265,000 for the prize card, which is in much better shape than the others.
But what’s absolutely insane about this is that there are 60 of these particular baseball cards in existence, although only one of them is practically mint. According to the article the other 59 cards still fetch a hefty price on the auction market:
The others “you could stick in middle of the street and let cars drive over it through the day, take it in your hand and crumple it up, and it still would be a $100,000 card,” said Seigel, CEO of Emerald Capital LLC, an asset management company, who lives in Las Vegas. Gretzky and Bruce McNall, former owner of the Los Angeles Kings, bought the card for $451,000 in 1991. During his ownership of the card, Seigel displayed it at several sports collectible shows, showed it at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum and at brought it to opening bell ceremonies for the NASDAQ stock exchange in New York.
The true kick in the nuts for me, is I still have all my baseball cards I collected as a kid and early teenager, except that my prize cards are all rookie cards for steroid era players. How much do you think my Mark McGuire rookie card would fetch? Or for that matter my Barry Bond’s rookie card, once he gets nailed to the wall by George Mitchell? Sigh.